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A Sam Walker kicking masterclass has propelled the Roosters to a 26-8 victory over the Bulldogs in torrid conditions. 

The halfback was superb with the boot as driving rain fell throughout the contest at Industree Group Stadium in Gosford. 

Walker ensured the Roosters adapted perfectly to the conditions, laying on two tries with his boot and finishing with four try assists and a perfect five from five goal kicking. 

Canterbury battled throughout the match, however errors at inopportune times proved costly as they fell to their first defeat since Round 11. 

While the Roosters opened the scoring through a Walker penalty goal, it was the Bulldogs who crossed for the first try of the contest.

Nat Butcher Try

Jaeman Salmon was on the end of an expansive attacking movement that started inside Canterbury's own half, Jacob Kiraz producing a punishing fend to send Jeral Skelton away down the side line, before he linked up with Salmon to make it 4-2 after 17 minutes.

The Roosters hit back almost immediately, a punishing Jared Waerea-Hargreaves tackle putting his side on the attack. The hosts made the most of the opportunity, Dominic Young finishing off a scrum set play to put his side back in front.  

Skelton levels Pauga!

The try allowed the hosts to claim the upper hand in the arm wrestle and a Brandon Smith 40-20 put the side back on the attack before Walker produced a perfect grubber for a charging Nat Butcher to make it 14-4.  

The Roosters dominance continued immediately after the break, a Skelton error providing the side with another opportunity to attack. 

Again, Walker's boot was key, Terrell May benefiting from a fortuitous rebound to gather the ball and extend the lead.

James Tedesco takes on the Bulldogs defensive line.
James Tedesco takes on the Bulldogs defensive line. ©NRL Photos

Skelton made amends for the mistake soon after, racing 90 metres to keep his side in the contest. 

The Roosters, however, didn't skip a beat and Walker put his team back on the front foot with a series of astute kicks. 

The pressure eventually resulted in points, debutant Blake Steep charging over from close range to make it 26-8. 

The match took a late turn when Roosters centre Junior Pauga was sent off for a hight tackle on Connor Tracy with seven minutes remaining. The Bulldogs spent the rest of the match on the attack, with Walker sent to the sin bin after a string of Roosters penalties. 

Despite being reduced to 11 men, Trent Robinson's side held firm to secure a hard-fought victory. 

Match Snapshot

  • Prop Terrell May was tireless in an impressive 80-minute performance. The Roosters forward ran for 213 metres with five tackle breaks and crossed for a try in the win.
  • Roosters halfback Sam Walker was placed on report for a high tackle in the 13th minute, while centre Junior Pauga was sent off for a high shot on Connor Tracey in the 73rd minute. Tracey left the field and did not return. 
  • A sold-out crowd of 16,686 braved the awful conditions to watch the first NRL game on the Central Coast this season. 
  • 19-year-old forward Blake Steep scored in his NRL debut. The lock was set to feature in Thursday's Under-19's State of Origin before he was recalled by the Roosters to play in the Bulldogs clash. 
  • The Roosters have now won 10 of their past 12 games against the Bulldogs. 
Blake Steep celebrates a try on debut.
Blake Steep celebrates a try on debut. ©NRL Photos

Play of the Game

Torrential rain fell throughout the contest but you wouldn't have known it based on the Bulldogs opening try of the match. The play started on the left sideline inside their own half, shifted all the way to the right, then back to the middle, before Reed Mahoney moved the ball back to the right. Eventually Jacob Kiraz produced a punishing fend to put Jeral Skelton away, who linked up with Jaeman Salmon to score an entertaining try.

Jaeman Salmon Try

What They Said

"We probably missed an opportunity to climb up the leaderboard a little bit. I'm incredibly proud of how gritty and how much effort they put in. We obviously didn't play the conditions as well as they did, they did a really good job getting through sets and winning the possession and field position battle. We knew going into the game that's how you win games in these conditions. It was disappointing for long periods of the game possession was 60-40 and they had a lot more play the balls inside the 20m zone than what we did. Whenever you're doing that you're going to invite pressure. I thought for long periods we were really good handling that pressure and defending our goal line but too much time down there is just inviting disappointment into your life." - Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo.

Bulldogs: Round 16

"Sam [Walker] and [Luke Keary] did a great job controlling the game. In these conditions you need your halves to set the tone and get us in a good spot. It wasn't really a game where you can skin them on the edge, we had to go through them or kick to score the points and Sammy nailed all those areas, it was a great game for him." - Roosters captain James Tedesco.

Roosters: Round 16

What's Next

The Bulldogs return home to face the Sharks at Accor Stadium on Friday night in the opening game of Round 17. The Roosters will close out the round with a clash against the Wests Tigers at Allianz Stadium on Sunday night.

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.